Gov't agency aims criticism at Affleck, Michelle Obama

ROME

Iranian media blasted Ben Affleck and First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday, reacting to Oscar victories for “Argo,” which Iran’s state TV dismissed as an “advertisement for the CIA.” Press TV also quoted the minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, saying that Hollywood “distorted history,” countering “Argo’s” depiction of how the CIA tricked Iranian revolutionaries to smuggle out six Americans during the 1979 hostage crisis.

But what seems to have prompted most animosity in Iran was Obama announcing “Argo’s” best picture win.

“The First Lady announced the prize for the anti-Iran film ‘Argo,’ which was produced by Zionist company Warner Bros.,” said Iran’s hardline official news agency Fars News.

Another Iranian wire service, the semi-official Mehr News, said that Obama’s involvement revealed that “Hollywood insiders” sacrificed quality and artistic value to “political slogans and distortions.”

As further proof of this purported conspiracy, Mehr claimed that most movie critics preferred “Lincoln.”

Mehr also blasted Affleck’s acceptance speech in which he thanked “our friends in Iran who live under terrible circumstances.”

“After distorting history, Ben Affleck continues to present a bleak picture of Iran: Iranians live in terrible circumstances,” the news agency said.

In recent years more than a dozen Iranian directors and actors, most famously helmer Jafar Panahi, whose “Closed Curtain” unspooled at Berlin in February after being smuggled out, have been arrested and accused of propaganda against the regime. Many have been jailed or prevented from leaving the country.

Iran won the 2012 foreign language Oscar for Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” but boycotted this year’s awards in protest against the U.S.-made anti-Islam video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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